Tag Archives: Lifestyle

Project Healthy Daily Routine

When someone takes a glimpse of my Google Calendar, especially on Fridays, they typically have a ‘Holy cow!’ response.

That’s because, when you glance at it, there’s pretty much no empty spots on any day of the week. That is not because I have back-to-back meetings everyday from 5:30am until 10:30pm. Rather, it’s because I have a habit of scheduling in my tasks, and also document how I spend my time everyday on the calendar. For instance, my plan of doing yoga for half an hour right after I wake up in the morning is an item on the calendar. This habit of mine have served me well in getting stuff done while working as a grad student. ’cause when you are not fixed to the 9-5 schedule, and can always work at home, at office, on weekends etc, then it’s so easy to let things slip and procrastinate for a long time.

Now, ever since I started the wake-up-super-early-with-wake-up-light routine about a week and a half ago, I’ve decided to take my daily logging a little bit more seriously.

Yes, yes I know. I’m a little bit of a control freak that way. But a book I recently read, and a number of other books I’ve read before, suggests to document how much time you spend on things everyday. Perhaps not to the same level of rigour as what I’m doing. But still, I think it’s a good exercise to get an idea of how healthy your lifestyle and daily schedule actually is.

Ironically, feeling super unmotivated and unproductive, I’ve decided to crunch some numbers from my past week’s worth of logging.

And the numbers are quite surprising.

While my sleeping schedule was more or less consistent throughout the week, the number of hours I spent on productive and unproductive things fluctuated quite a LOT. I mean, a lot.

I know that we all have one of those days when you just can’t get anything done. And I’ve had those days too. But to see numbers put next to it? Wow…

For example, on the most unproductive day, I spent about 14% of my awaking hours on doing something work related. This includes me doing emails and stuff. Pretty bad, don’t you think? On the same day (Thursday), I spent 29% of my time procrastinating, 11% socializing, and 18% doing chores. And I definitely did not exercise that day. I know, I know. Embarrassing. But the point is to figure out how to fix this, right? At least I know where my starting point is. 🙂

Anyways.. On the most productive day (Tuesday this week, apparently), I spent 1.5 hours doing exercises (that’s 9% of my time awake). I went to my very first Zumba class which exhausted me out for the rest of the week (super low productivity on Wednesday and Thursday). Then I spent 6% of my time socializing, 6% on hobby related stuff, 6% travelling to/from places, 18% taking shower, eating, and getting ready, and… (drum roll here) … a whooping 50% of doing work related stuff. And this is not even including the time I spent answering emails etc. I’d say that’s quite a difference from my Thursday’s productivity of 14%. Typically, this value for someone who works 9-5 would be in the 41% range if s/he sleeps 7 hour a day and take an hour lunch and is working (and not procrastinating) for the full 7 hours in the office.

So the question is, what made the difference between how I spent my Tuesday vs. Thursday? I mean, I think I really exhausted myself physically on Tuesday, and that kind of got carried over to the rest of the week (I totally didn’t exercise afterwards).

My key hypothesis is that how I spend my day is closely related to how I spend the first few minutes of my wake-up time. On the days I exercised, I didn’t roll around in bed, holding on to my tablet, reading stuff or catching up on social media. Instead, I got up right away to pull some yoga moves, and jump into the shower to start my day.

On the days I didn’t exercise, I definitely rolled around to check my email, answer it on my tablet, and read stuff online. And the rolling around definitely had something to do with me not wanting to start my day.

These are only observational notes from the limited number of samples I have, of course. But I am hoping that I can keep it up and empirically convince myself to pick up healthy habits, such as exercising for half an hour every morning.

One thing for sure is that, although it might look crazy control-freak that I schedule everything and log my daily time expenditure, setting and following a daily routine totally has its benefits. And I’m going to think about monitoring my routine as just closing the loop of my daily schedule, so that I have a practical sense of how much I can do in a day, while improving my daily productivity.

For now, I’m going to stop the planning/monitoring process and make myself an awesome dinner in preparation for another epic week.

Engineering Tuition Fees in Canada + Newspaper Subscriptions

So I won’t write too much today, because I am struggling to shake of my post-lunch food coma and should continue to do so in order to get some much needed work done.

But I did want to point you to a figure from a popular article that has been floating around my social network for at least a couple of days. It’s a National Post article commenting on the Quebec student protest against tuition increase. I am not going to comment on the article itself – to be honest, I am too sleepy to understand it – but will comment on what the figure tells me.

If you look at the top left corner of the figure (thanks to National Post for their epic graphic design work), that’s where you’ll find the average tuition costs for the province of British Columbia. And if you look to the far right near the middle of the figure, you can find the average tuition costs for engineering in Ontario. Bah~! I JUST came to the realization that I got my engineering education from one of the more expensive parts of Canada (I am guessing these numbers reflect undergrad tuition). Thinking back, if I hadn’t received a scholarship that covered it, I would’ve been in a very different financial situation now. Hmmp..!

So in that sense, getting an engineering degree in BC is on the cheaper side. It’s the third cheapest in the country it seems. Given that the first two are Quebec and Newfoundland, and BC is called the “beautiful BC” for a reason, I’d say UBC engineering is a bargain deal. But then again, it comes with all the living expenses and stuff that you don’t quite see in the figure…

Anyways, I just wanted to share that while waiting for my coffee to get ready.

Oh, and on a side note… I hope I will have more things to share with you from the news throughout the summer now that I will be receiving Globe and Mail delivered to my door starting in June. I came across a coupon to subscribe to a gardening magazine recently and, somehow, instead of subscribing to the magazine, I ended up finding out that Globe and Mail has a section on gardening. So I decided to get them delivered to my door and make newspaper reading a part of my morning routine.

They offer student pricing for newspaper subscriptions by the way. It looks like it’ll cost me $24.11 per month to get newspaper delivered from Monday to Saturday, and $8.88 per month if I just want Saturday delivery only. It may be surprising to you, but this is the first time I’m subscribing to a paper-based newspaper – a long story in itself, hence I won’t ponder on it for too long – and I am quite excited about it. So I’ve signed up for the full Monday – Saturday delivery. It’ll be interesting to see whether they can actually find my residence and manage to deliver it to my door. 🙂

From http://news.nationalpost.com

Blogging… hobbies…

The day I got the planter, and replanted my to-be delicious salads (May 19th, 2012)

On the last post, I made a comment about how I am becoming freakishly interested in gardening.

This new hobby is not the most student friendly, since a lot of students are residence-bound, meaning limited space to keep pots of plants around. Many students do not have access to a car, which means we are bound to ride on buses to transport all the nutritious potting soil and fertilizers that are necessary for your plants.

Last weekend, I got my grocery caddie out to go get some groceries for the week. I hadn’t really been eating properly (so much for a balanced lifestyle eh?) last week, and figured I should give myself the luxury of consuming fruits. Consuming fruits is a luxurious activity for me, because most fruits tend to be heavy. The sweet ball of vitamin C in oranges and apples need to be carried from the grocery store to my place, which involves about a 5 minute bus ride and 15minute walk. Hence is the my reason for using my grocery caddie on the special days I decide to consume natural vitamin C.

Two days after replanting. Look how fast they grow! 😀

But due to my craze for gardening, I decided to take a detour and ‘drop by’ the Home Hardware store on Sasamat & 10th. I hadn’t checked out their garden section yet, and so my curiosity led me there quite naturally.

I never ended up going to the grocery store that day, nor did I get the fruity goodness I was hoping to treat myself to. Let’s just say that, instead of purchasing and consuming fruits, I’ve decided to make investments for my future fruit-craving days.

I walked out of the hardware store with the grocery caddie filled with 18 L of potting soil, and a 32 inch windowsill planter. Considering that a litre of water is about a kilogram, and potting soil supposedly contains much denser things than water, I don’t think I need to do the math for you to realize that 18L of soil is quite heavy. But I carried it all the way back home, along with the planter that is about as long as 50% of my height (thank god there’s an elevator in my building!).

Four days after replanting! Yum yum deliciousness welcomes me every morning! 😀

Was it worth it?

Oh yes. Now I have a proper planter (I was running out of yogurt containers) that occupies about 40% of my windowsill and keeps me happy every time I look at it.

Anyways, my experience of putting together a small garden in my small studio residence got me wondering about this whole gardening world, and how other people who don’t have the luxury of a backyard, balconies etc. manage to foster their passion (such as people living in residences, apartment buildings etc). That curiosity has led me to a blog called the Life on the Balcony (http://lifeonthebalcony.com) that talks about container gardening in general.

Epic. I got to know so much about container gardening from this blog, and became very much inspired to try out some of the ideas the blogger, Fern Richardson, generously offers for free. For example, did you know you can grow things with these hanging bags? Now, I’m cheap, so I am going to save myself a few bucks and try and make one of these, but that’s another adventure I can chat about later.

So, upon coming across epic gardening blogs that essentially saved me time and money (I still don’t own any gardening books or subscribe to magazines) without asking for anything from me in return (other than the fact that I increased their visitor count I guess), I had a little moment of reminder about the value of blogging as another hobby in itself.

I mean, as academics, we are paid to be here, at a university with the near-supernatural powers of the internet provided to you and an abundance of new and interesting knowledge and ideas in every corner of the campus waiting for you to discover and share. So, why not share the knowledge and ideas you have, especially when it can benefit the readers?

Anyways, I’ve been a blogger for quite some time now, not only for this iMech blog meant for prospective and current UBC students, but for a blog dedicated to the field of roboethics. I had started writing for the roboethics blog (called Roboethics Info Database) precisely because there isn’t a lot of comprehensive website available that discuss the topic of roboethics.

But while I was busy with my thesis, I gave up blogging entirely. It was, unfortunately, one of the first of my hobbies/routines to go when the crunch time hit. Now, being on the consumer side of blogging, I am feeling a renewed sense of invisible obligation to really keep myself in check and to commit to my hobby of blogging. Because the thing is, there is definitely some value in providing information for free, not in the academic form filled with jargon but in a form friendly to the public.

And the experience of blogging itself is quite worthwhile as well. The act of drafting a blog post is an informal exercise for you to put together your thoughts in a reflective manner. I mean, who has time to sit down in silence to reflect anyway? I’ve given that up back in undergrad. So if you are like me, lacking time for reflection yet enjoy thinking out loud, I’d like to encourage you find ways to share your thoughts/ideas/knowledge. Some great blogs are academic blogs anyway – informative things written by the experts who are really passionate about the field/topic can really reach a wide range of audience.

Anyways, this might just be another rambling of mine, trying to find balance in my life (balancing of hobby/work/social life) and emphasizing the things that may be the first to go when crunch time hits, but is still very valuable in a consequentialist sense. One thing I know for sure is that I am very much looking forward to tomorrow morning, when my plants will have grown taller and perhaps healthier with the help of the free gardening tips I got from all the bloggers whom I sincerely thank.